Natalie, a friend of mine, has a cat named Isis. Now, after a comment a neighbor lady made, she wants to change it, and that causes my brain to reach Critical Processing Failure. So in defense of Isis, the cat, I’m now determined to convince my friend to shave an Islamic crescent moon into the animal’s fur.
Apparently the neighbor said something about the cat confusing kids, who are just learning about the militants. At any rate, that’s about as far as Natalie got before my hands and arms took on a life of their own, flailing like flies were trying to get into my mouth and land on my eyeballs.
“Wait, wait, wait…she said WHAT!?”
What low-watt adults are these, inflicting the media’s 24-hour terrorist hostility feed onto children? Show me kids who are so ruinously strobed by ISIS media hype that they’d confuse a house cat with the Islamic bogeyman and I’ll show you parents who need an ass-kicking in a parking lot.
I had to sit down and be convinced not to confront the woman, demand she never speak to Natalie again, and wish mortuary cannibalism upon her.
But it was Nat’s failure to laugh that gave me pause. She’d actually taken the woman somewhat seriously, I could tell, which re-prioritized the mission at hand. I realized I needed to listen, to offer Natalie counsel.
The woman claims that when Natalie calls the cat in the evenings, as she does, and rings her little food bell-thing, the next-door kids hear, “Eye-sis! Eye-sis! C’mere Eye-sis!” So she’s concerned for them, which is classic, because this pinecone has simultaneously managed to project TV terror onto a couple of hapless seven-year-olds and emasculate the Islamic State by associating its call to arms with a kitty bell.
I guess it doesn’t help that Isis, the cat, has black fur, which means she was born in the same Vietnamese guerilla/insurgent black pajamas now worn by the Islamic dudes.
It also doesn’t help that she has, in fact, ruthlessly beheaded lizards, mice, grasshoppers, and praying mantises by the dozen. She likes to stand imperiously above their carcasses as though delivering a horrifying message to the rest of the backyard that all disbelievers should be thrown into the pit of body parts. I’ll admit she’s a little unnerving in the evening, when car headlights momentarily radicalize her eyes.
When Isis became an indoor-outdoor pet, we’d catch her studying us from tree branches, from behind trash cans, and from atop fences. She would peer out from beneath neighbor’s cars, awaiting word of activation. And there was no telling from where she’d awaken, race across the yard, and attack baby birds whose only crime was touching down in an area controlled by Isis.
Think it’s a coincidence that Natalie’s dog ran away when Isis arrived from the rescue shelter? Compared to other cats on Natalie’s street, Isis is new, yet the others run away when she’s on the move. These refugees long ago stopped encroaching on Nat’s driveway, now a flat, barren no man’s land. It’s been estimated that up to four cats have been displaced from their roaming areas since Isis began widening her boundaries. They wait each night for Natalie to let the little hardliner in the back door.
Isis got her name a long time before the Islamic State arose, back when Bin Laden was still living in a cave. It was given because Natalie likes Egyptian stuff, but whatever! None of this needs to be said. The old drunk next door need not even be acknowledged. So what if Natalie calls out “Eye-sis!” during the NBC nightly news. Surely the parents on the other side of the fence have a sense of humor, or have at least explained that Nat’s Isis shouldn’t be confused with لدولة الإسلامية .
“She was nice about it,” Natalie related, “but she had this look on her face.”
“Please tell me you didn’t agree to change her name.”
“I told her I’d think about it.” She quickly added a tentative, “But I wasn’t serious – ?”
I responded with a petulant, “Well, if you were, you might as well help her make sure your cat didn’t plant a car bomb under your Toyota.”
And there it is: I just can’t believe Natalie is entertaining the idea of accommodating this whack-job’s dumb-ass excuse for ill-informed, self-aggrandizing Islamaphobia. My fingers remain crossed that she’ll opt instead to sling the little G.I. Joe M-16 I gave her around her Isis’s collar.
Really, folks…it’s ok to challenge someone’s comfort zones, intentionally or not.